Pioneering study helps Portugal’s alcoholics recover cognitive skills

A ground-breaking project to help alcoholics recover lost brain function through the use of a mobile app is being tested in Portugal. According to a report in Jornal Médico, the app shows that the loss of cognitive functions due to excessive abuse of alcohol “can be reversed”. The project has been tested on a group of patients in a mental hospital in Mem Martins who “improved significantly”.

The plan now is to extend the project to elderly people in a joint collaboration with the Lisbon parish of Benfica.

As Paulo Lopes responsible for the project told the online paper, the mHealth app has seen those given the benefit of it vastly outstrip heavy drinkers left to “conventional therapy”.

The programme of stimulation involves games using tablets or mobile phones that re-train users’ minds.

“There are ten 50-minute sessions spread out over three weeks,” Lopes explains. “The sessions are mapped and the applications designed and constructed by us. They involve tasks: looking at images, grouping them into pairs, choosing the correct images.

They’re games to train speed and memory, the ability to process, perceive and understand language,” he added.

The full results of the study were due to be presented at the 12th psychiatric congress of Lisbon’s Instituto São João de Deus as the Resident went to press.

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